Monday, October 4, 2010

Good times in Dublin

This past Friday I hoped on a bus with the two roomies to see the busy city of Dublin, located in the upper east of the Republic. I spent two nights in a hostel, sleeping in bunk style beds in rooms that housed six, and eight people. The first night was spent in a room that was situated right next to a pub, which had blaring music accompanied by a man singing opera. Although it was very entertaining, it surely hindered my going to sleep.

The idea of sleeping in a hostel scared me somewhat. I've heard stories of people having their things stolen in the middle of night when they're least aware of their surroundings. Both nights there were a couple of girls, so I was less skeptical. I kept my purse with me underneath the covers just in case. The first hostel I was in had noisy metal racks, so if someone were to try and take my backpack, I'd most likely wake up to the screeching noise. Another precaution that's taken is actually done when you pay for your lodgings. The person at the desk will take down information from you or someone else in the group, in case there's any issues or reports of stolen goods. For the most part, I didn't mind it too much, except for the fact that I had to carry my backpack everywhere. I just plan on saving my money, so that I can pay for a cheap hotel in order to drop my things off before sightseeing. For pricing, it's around 17 to 22 euro, depending on where you go and what day it is.

The places I visited were Dublin Castle and chapel, Dublin Gaol (jail), the city park, and Guiness Brewery. We took a tour bus that had two day tickets for 14 euro, and just made our way around the city while jumping on around stops. The only thing was that sometimes the buses were too full because the price was favorable for a lot of tourists and so sometimes the wait was longer than the normal 10-15 minutes. Anyways, the tour was fun, especially when it came to sitting up on the second level of the double decker bus! It was chilly, but definitely worth it.

Dublin Castle wasn't very impressive, being rather small. However, one interesting detail was the design of some of the rooms throughout. There was lots of inspiration drawn from Roman art, particularly pillars and the use of classic colors, along with gold. This is also apparent with one of the buildings on the Trinity College campus. It's structure is made entirely of white bold pillars that curve in that Romanesque design. The best part of the castle was the ball room, which was constructed of the same patterns, but with three beautiful murals designed above on the ceiling. So breathtaking. My advice is not to go see Dublin Castle because of it's structure, but because of it's historical context and interesting furniture, paintings, and elaborate ceiling art.

The Gaol in Dublin has a brutal past. Just looking into the tiny cells that housed up to eight people at a time would make anyone shiver. Throughout the years it consisted of both men, women and children, some as young as five years of age due to stealing bread and clothes. In the main room where the walls are lined with doors on three separate floors lies two staircases, one vertical that leads straight to the top floor for the prison guards, and another one that goes into a spiral that marks the way for the prisoners. During a time when women were imprisoned there, guards would drag their bodies up these stairs while beating them along the way. Several hundred people were hanged, shot, or had their head cutoff on their last days there. Very few managed to escape. I highly recommend going to see this place of historical cruelty, not because it's so grim, but because there's so much Irish history to be learned, and it gives you the idea of what it was like back when times were very hard.

OH! Brief note: The main room as mentioned above has fantastic acoustics (it was so prison guards could hear of any mischief that may occur) and at one point was used by U2 to record some of their albums.

Visiting the Guinness Brewery was more for the experience than it was to see the museum part of the distillery. There were several floors, the first two showcasing all of the ingredients that goes into the stout, as well as a bit of history about the man himself: Author Guinness. Then the third floor displayed several advertisements throughout the years, as well as toys, coloring books, and figurines of the Toucan and other various zoo animals. Moving on up, one was rewarded a sample of the tasty porter, which I didn't particular care for but drank it all up none the less. The next floor had a special area where you can "pour the perfect pint." An instructor would demonstrate how to properly pour a pint of Guinness, and if you succeeded on doing such, the winner would receive a certificate. I decided to go to the very top floor, where I could trade in my ticket for either Guinness or soda, and since I'm not a stout drinker, I went for the fizzy stuff. My favorite part of the gallery was the room that featured all of the advertisement art. One in particular that made me giggle depicted a kangaroo that placed her young one in the apron pocket of a porter in exchange for a bottle of Guinness that was tucked neatly in her pouch. For the most part, I enjoyed going there the most out of everything I did while in Dublin, and I highly recommend it, even if you're not much a stout drinker such as myself.

The bus ride to and from Dublin wasn't so bad. It's a three hour route from Cork, and at the start I was somewhat motion sick but got used to it pretty quick. The seats are very comfortable and easy to sleep in, much unlike the Grey Hounds we have back in the States. It's great transportation, and tickets only cost 11 euro or more or less, depending on where you're going. :)

Differences between Dublin and Cork:
-Accents! Dublin natives speak more plainly than those from the far south.
-American shops are much more plentiful here. Aldo, American Apparel, and Pizza Hut to name a few.
-Very touristy. There's plenty of Irish shops to buy goods in, and the majority of people walking around speak different languages. Cork does have some Tourist, but not nearly as many.
-Lots of art. Sculptures appear on just about every street corner, and there's also plenty of modern buildings in comparison to Cork. Croke Park Stadium is a must see for those who enjoy architecture from the 21st century.
-Beer is expensive. Expect to pay at least 5 euro (About seven to eight dollars per bottle). Cork charges between 3 and 4 euro.
-Streets are much more dangerous, and cars/buses are less likely to stop. Jaywalking is still common, but not as safe.

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